DA appalled by DPWI’s ‘paid up’ R1.6m SAPS Brackendowns debt claims

Issued by Madeleine Hicklin MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
14 May 2023 in News

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is appalled to learn that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure owes the City of Ekurhuleni more than R1.6 million for the leasing of property hosting the Brackendowns Police Service, situated on Portion 1 & 2 of ERF 3231 Brackendowns No 88 Letaba Street in Alberton – a debt the DPWI claimed in February 2023 it had fully paid up.

The current existence of this debt was revealed by the former MMC for Real Estate, Councillor Tambo Mokoena, in a response to a question for written reply tabled during the Ordinary Ekurhuleni Council Meeting held on 30 March 2023. It flies in the face of a presentation made to the Portfolio Committee of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on 22 February 2023 wherein the Acting Director-General, Alec Moemi, and members of the Real Estate Management Services (REMS) assured the Portfolio Committee Members that the municipal services account for the ERF 3231 in Brackendowns had been fully settled and was paid up.

The entire issue of the Brackendowns Police Station is a major cause for concern: ownership of the land is vested in the City of Ekurhuleni and a procurement request has to be issued for the land either to be donated or SAPS, or acquired by DPWI in order for a proper Police Station to be built; what is currently serving the community is severely under-capacitated to serve the needs of the residents; the SAPS station it is housed in a modular structure procured by DPWI on behalf of SAPS and the land from Ekurhuleni at a cost of R30 059.23 per month, on a month-to-month basis, as the original lease agreement between DPWI and the Ekurhuleni expired in 2019.

Even the date of the original lease differs depending on who you speak to – but it is a moot point, because the City refuses to renew any lease with a ‘bad payer’ [DPWI] as it claims its debt is still outstanding.

The only amount the DPWI conceded was outstanding in the February meeting was R443 225.63 … for utilities. This amount has been outstanding since April 2021, but whether this is included in the alleged R1.6 million is unclear. How can such an amount be outstanding from the DPWI for over two years?

Who is telling the truth? No one knows. Acting DG Moemi committed the DPWI to working towards getting the land transferred to DPWI or to SAPS, or moving SAPS to appropriate DPWI-owned land, to ensure a permanent and sustainable solution to the challenges posed by a society lacking access to a capacitated SAPS Police Station – and yet nothing appears to be forthcoming. Not even a discussion with the City of Ekurhuleni or payment of outstanding debts.

One thing is irrevocably clear: the intense intervention to resolve this matter, the commitment to ensuring that the residents are served by this 30-year temporary structure, is nothing but talk.

It proves only one thing: Talk is cheap and money buys whiskey. And the recipients of easy talk, and cheap whiskey, are the residents of Ward 38 in Brackendowns where crime is on the increase and the DPWI is nowhere to be seen.